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Anger and Anxiety: Are The Two Related?

Did you know? There are around 34,000 different emotions a human being can experience! Psychologists have recorded 27 common “emotional states” and from there, the 34,000 emotions exist. With all of these emotions, why is it that anger and anxiety are so commonly felt together? Is there a missing link some of us are unaware of?

While life circumstances can us pain, it is the thoughts we think about said pain that control how we feel. Surprisingly, the thoughts at the root core of both anxiety and anger are astonishingly similar.

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s discuss the basics of these two uncomfortable emotions and how closely their connection really is.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety can be experienced by every human being, regardless if they struggle with an anxious disorder or not. You may have felt anxious before a big test, or when preparing for a public speech.

These feelings of anxiety are normal and pass as the situation unfolds. However, an individual who struggles with anxiety on a mental health level feels worried, stressed, nervous, or fearful more often than not. Anxiety is a persistent feeling that can cause even everyday life to feel overwhelming.

Someone with an anxiety disorder often feels overly aroused, causing them a “free-floating” tension about future events far before they’ve ever unfolded. While anxious people certainly may ruminate on the past, anxiety is often directed towards the unknown of what is to come.

What Really Is Anger?

We all know what it feels like to be angry. But, what exactly is anger?

Anger is a secondary emotion (an emotion caused by a primary factor). It is an automatic response to pain, whether that be physical or emotional. The exact cause of pain isn’t important, but rather the acknowledgement that the pain we just experienced was unpleasant.

Anger is deeply rooted in feeling vulnerable, wronged, threatened, attacked, or powerless. It can cause people to act out in certain ways they normally wouldn’t.

Many people feel anger as a past centred emotion. This means anger is felt because we believe something shouldn’t have happened to us, or someone we love. This causes many individuals to feel justified in their anger or behaviour while angry.

So, How Are Anger and Anxiety Connected?

While anger and anxiety may seem different on the surface, they are far more alike than you may think. They are both emotions, and both a part of the human experience. But what else creates this connection?

Anger and Anxiety Have the Same Physiological Symptoms

When our bodies are in a state of perceived danger or attack, we enter into “fight or flight” mode.

This dates back to prehistoric times in which our brains developed a coping mechanism against predators. When we feel anxious or angry, our bodies secrete both cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol is the bodies natural stress hormone keeping us on our toes, while adrenaline gives us the energy to fight off whatever is coming our way.

Since these hormones spike when we feel anxiety or anger, you are likely to feel any of these shared symptoms:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest tightness
  • Heat flashes
  • Intestinal problems

Everyone experiences both anger and anxiety differently. Some people may choose their “flight” response causing them to avoid certain people or situations, while others may lean towards their “fight” response, causing them to feel angry.

Anger and Anxiety: Are the two related?

Anger and Anxiety Have the Same Root Cause

When we feel anxious, we worry about how certain circumstances are going to play out, how someone may act, or what may be done to us. When we feel angry, we are ruminating on someone or something that has caused us pain.

Both of these emotional states have the same root cause: a loss of control.

In both scenarios, the overwhelming emotions that come from feeling out of control can take over. Not only this, but in each case, an outside stimulus is controlling our perception of safety and comfort.

Anger and Anxiety Are Caused by Our Thoughts

There is no person, place, or thing in this world that can make us feel anxious or angry. It is not the pain that was caused, or the situations involved that create these feelings. Instead, it is the way we think about them that causes us emotional turmoil.

Anxiety and anger share common thoughts such as:

  • Assumptions about others’ motives
  • Interpretations of a situation
  • Personal assessments of ourselves
  • Evaluations about someone’s actions

No matter the circumstance, thoughts that can trigger both anger and anxiety pertain to an individual’s idea that someone (whether they do so on purpose, or not) is trying to cause them harm.

Feeling Angry is a Symptom of Anxiety Disorder

Did you know? Feeling angry, irritable, or on edge is a common symptom of anxiety disorder.

Some individuals feel immense shame for their inability to control their anxious thoughts. This can then manifest into anger directed inwards. As they wrestle with the idea that they’ve lost control of their own mind, they may attempt to reflect inward, perpetuating the cycle of shame and judgement.

Others that struggle with anxiety may feel irritable or angry because anxiety disorders are incredibly exhausting. Our brains are not meant to be operating at full speed day in and day out, yet for someone with an anxiety disorder, this is precisely what is happening.

This depletes us of our energy and makes us less tolerant towards things we normally would. When we are not able to shrug off small annoyances with full strength, we can become angry (and overstimulated).

The Bottom Line

Anger and anxiety are closely related. Not only are they are both triggered by everyday experiences, but the way we think about these experiences can either improve our anger and anxiety, or make it worse.

These two emotions are caused by an influx of hormones racing through our body when we come across as perceived threat. This fear of losing control is powerful, yet normal.

Taking a few minutes to breathe, getting out into nature, practising mindfulness techniques, and prioritising self-care are all ways you can cope with both anger and anxiety.

When we chose to take control, rather than allow these feelings to control us, we establish resilience – the greatest gift of all.

Orchestrate Health offers bespoke mental health services that people can access from the comfort of their own home or within their community, with rapid response times and even daily visits if needed. Orchestrate Health can provide help for those struggling with anxiety, and remove the inconvenience of travelling to and from appointments.






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